A Guide How To Write A Close Reading Essay

You may wonder what is meant by a close-reading essay. Consider an example of an individual going to a museum. He will stare at a picture until he finds out information he did not see initially. This is what is happening while writing a close-reading essay. While writing this kind of essay, you are expected to be flexible in your observation and be analytical in your interpretation of texts. When your tutor gives you this assignment, treat it as the best opportunity for you to show your teacher that apart from having the ability to identify minutes in a poem, passage or short storytelling, you can say something significant about your identification. Take it if you are looking for a hidden treasure. All the details you discover are your treasures, and at this moment you have all the freedom of deciding how to handle them.

A Guide How To Write A Close Reading Essay

In most occasions, you will discover that you enjoy the process of writing a close-read essay. Because you will give meaning to every single word used in a text, you will find the process fascinating. Taking a more in-depth look at the discovered details will also help you find out a deeper and more detailed meaning of the text enlightening your experience of it. Before you make your conclusion to leave your assigned task on writing a close-reading text, give yourself a chance to see the beneficial side of it.

Definition of a Close Reading

As the name suggests, a close reading essay refers to an essay that is focused on the tiny themes within a literary story, passage, or poem. Most of the essays you might have come across or written were concerned on broader topics like justice, adulthood, loneliness, love, and jealousy. The mentioned issues are called broader themes because they deal with problems that are common in texts. They are not hard to find in any document. They are readily seen like traffic signs. Characteristics explained in the text would sometimes refer to them directly. At some point, these themes would be repeated in the text. They come in the mind of readers once they reference their work.

On the other side, close reading assignments seek to explain what would be disclosed if one decides to look at these broad themes deeply. It is like examining the bottom of the rock and describing your experience and discovery (“How to Write a Close Reading Essay,” 2019). In close reading essays, the writer is expected to explain in detail how smaller teams have been used creatively to connect to the larger theme. In such articles, you should be in a position to tell how the writer has used his language and what has been left out. This essay is like a deep scuba that dives to the bottom of the text, ocean to find out how the author’s choice of words, imagery, tonal variation, and other literary elements work together to bring out a unified theme in the text.

Though the close essay intends to look beyond the typical focus of the book, most aspects uncovered in the text acts as a road map towards the larger theme. Most items you identify in a close reading essay help you understand other issues of the essay. Also, they will give you a better understanding of both nuance and understanding. This refers to both big and smaller themes that are found within a text.

Despite the reader looking at hidden information within a text, you will be expected to gather a lot of information from any given portion of information. This essay requires you to interpret the text correctly and be in a position to apply it in the larger theme or the rest of the story. Your writing should have the ability to inspire readers to research and learn more about what you have discussed. Once you are through with this article, you will get a better insight into all that is needed from you as far as close-reading essays are concerned. You will be more than confident to handle one essay and get not just a passing grade but a grade you have ever yearned to get.

Steps of Writing a Close Reading Essay

The first thing to do after given a close reading assignment is to read it at least thrice. Your first reading is to equip yourself with the content. Then your second reading is to extract some finer details within the text. Your final reading is for you to understand the whole text and is achieved when you read slowly and keenly. As you read the text, you might have come across information that you find essential. Underline it for quick reference while writing. Necessary information can be repeated words, unusual syntax, provocative punctuation, or details you did notice during your first reading. You should invest your time in this stem by reading the text slowly. Remember discoveries are not made through a rush.

Note down all the information you have underlined in the text. Try to figure out what might be connecting them or even a portion of them. From your list, what can you conclude about the theme, the larger piece, and the author’s intention?

Then write down the conclusions you have made above in a piece of paper. Your most robust finding should be circled and redesigned into a thesis statement.

From your underlined evidence, circle the one that strongly conforms to your thesis statement. Then come up with a hook that will connect to your broader idea of your thesis statement. For instance, if your thesis statement was about being watched unaware shown in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, you may decide to start using a quote or interesting statistics on being watched unaware.

Then make sure you discuss the above concept in an additional three to four sentences but still in your introduction. At the end of your submission, state the thesis statement you had prepared. In the first paragraph of your essay body, discuss the primary textual evidence. It should be brief and direct to imagery, language, syntax, repetition and any other thing you had noticed while reading the text of. Explain why it is essential and how it supports your thesis statement.

Repeat step 8 with the other two body paragraphs in your essay.

In this step, you will have to summarize your argument using a new fashion of language. You should do this without the slightest kind of repetition. Try in your summary to remind your readers how the details will help them get an understanding of the text. To achieve this, you have to connect your thesis statement to the bigger picture of the era. If for instance, you are discussing uncanny found in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” you may have to link your thesis statement to the human lineage to make people understand afterlife.

The Format for a Close Reading

The format for writing this kind of essay is not different from other essays you have come across. First, you begin your essay with an introduction and insert a thesis statement at the end of your introduction. After the introduction, you will write three body paragraphs in support of your thesis. In these body paragraphs, you will use detailed textures that are shown as quotes. In your conclusion, you will restate your thesis statement but using a new fashion of language making reference to the content of your essay.

In case you are writing a close reading on a short story book or poem, then there is no need for you to specify the section your essay will deal with. But for longer pieces of writing or stories, you will have to specify using your introduction. For instance, you can decide to write something of this sought: “The paper will explore the author’s use of color in chapter one of The Red Badge, of Courage.” Also, you can state it this way: “The paper will examine repetition of the gerund in the Burial of the Dead in T.S. Eliot’s poem, ‘The Waste Land.”

Close Reading Essay Topics

  • Daisy’s voice and words in ‘The Great Gatsby’: Explain their indication on the author’s character.
  • The Beverage used in ‘The Great Gatsby’: how they display both emotional and actual events.
  • How does the phrase ‘old spot’ help in identifying the time when the novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ was created?
  • What was the author trying to pass across by using Cigarettes and Smoking in the novel ‘The Catcher in the Rye’?
  • In the novel ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’ pick one slung word used by Holden and argue on it.
  • In ‘This is just to say,’ discuss the word choice, structure, syntax, and visual elements that William Carlos used.
  • What makes inscrutability more mysterious in Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’?
  • Discuss how Biblical and religious symbols have been used to drive the narrative in “The Red Badge of Courage”?

An Example of A Close Reading Essay

The most known form of punishment associated with solitary confinement that lies in isolation is torture and its associated structures. It is manifested in the prevention of human association, stimulus, or exposure to the outside world. The above premise helps in shaping the renewed short story, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Majority of scholars who have read the story interpret it as a tale by a woman who went mad because of stimulus, isolation and excessive bearing of men who were in her life. Though their interpretation seems legitimate and valid factors for the heroine, the author places a very deliberate hint in the story that proposes that sees the story as a ghost story and there is something hidden that was influencing the main character in this story.

It takes the author great pain to describe the grand empty house that was rented by the couple during summer. The house seemed to be having an exciting story of darkness. The house itself is in an environment that is isolated about three miles from the nearest town. These make me imagine English places I have read about. They have hedges, walls, and gates that are surrounded by other several little houses for workers. Even though the experience described in the story does not sound dark, the author aimed at provoking the subconscious mind of the readers. Coming across the word ‘English places’ will make readers think of dark, expansive, and gloomy places. The use of hedges, walls, locks, and gates helps in bringing the idea of captivity for those associated with such places. The author’s reference to several small houses surrounding the place shows that there are numerous places for individuals and bad things to hide in.

The concept of the dark history of the mentioned house is found in the following information. “There were greenhouses, too, but they were all broken now.” This is a provocative technique used by the author, and he deliberately avoided to mention that the houses were empty, or had rusted or needed some renovation. The only possible way of breaking a greenhouse – to break the glass used to construct it. This shows that there is an existence of some violence, provocation, or rioting that resulted in the described situation.

Further detail leaves the reader in anxiety. “There was some legal trouble, I believe, something about the heirs and coheirs; anyhow, the place has been empty for some years.” This technique is highly suggestive, and one would wonder the kind of trouble that would keep the place empty for that long duration. If there would be a suggestion, then it is like heirs are trying to vie to get to live in the place. This is if the situation is as described above. The situation suggests an ugly situation between family members or even chaotic in the country.

“Then the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered, the plaster itself is dug out here and there, and this great heavy bed which is all we found in the room, looks as if it had been through the wars.” The above statement shows that there was someone who was held captive early. In the story, we are told severally that in the windows, there were bars and “rings and things” were also found on the walls. The fact the author tells us of gouges and plasters that had been dug shows that someone was really trying to escape from this place. This further creates a picture in the readers that someone was trying to escape but might have died and the ghost would possibly be observing the heroin in another part.

To sum up, Gilman relied heavily on several details in his book, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ to bring out the aspect of the ghost story in the traditional setting. In this story, what drives the heroine insane is the existence of a supernatural being as well as forced seclusion. Information on the occult and uncanny is prevalent. It would be possible that the house was possibly a hidden place for murder. Because of torture and murder that took place in this house, it is full of marvelous energy and dark spirits and is waiting for any vulnerable individual like the main character in this case. Though the character goes mad, it would be even more challenging to start blaming all those surrounding her. The author intentionally suggests that there is something unusual with the room and the house in general and the history of this mysterious house would be sordid.


A close reading essay helps you to put in place your detective gears and examine a piece of writing more keenly. The intention of teachers giving out this kind of assignment is to test your ability to notice smaller details and relate them to the whole work. As a student, we would advise you to concentrate on the minor aspects of either poem or story provided. This is where most students and some scholars fail as they only focus on the major themes and forget about the smaller issues. After discovering them, then let the details you have found guide you throughout your discussion. This would be more fun as it gives you an opportunity to view the literary piece from another perspective.

As we always advise students, if you still think you have a challenge handling this kind of assignment contact us. Our writing team is well equipped and has enough experience on this assignment so you should not worry at all. It will take them the shortest time to help you get on track with your writing, or if you are going in circles, they will guide you refocus your work.

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